Once again, Memorial Day is not about those of us who made it home, it's about those who "Gave Their All."
It's never said so in the song, but the assumption from the day it was released is that it was for a friend who never made it back from "Over There."
Lyrics are found here.
I'd never heard this version before. It may be a bit of a change from what most expect from Jerry Jeff Walker, and I think my buddy George would have liked it. There was really no reason for us to hit it off as well as we did, other than a mutual interest in guns and hunting. And Science Fiction. And a shared distrust of authority, which I suppose seems odd to those who never served, in a couple of NCO's.
But we did, and I always had a couch to sleep on if I needed to get away from the barracks, even if I needed to drive 800 miles to do it. (Long weekends. Great things, but don't tell the Army I drove that far in a night...)
Like me, George served overseas several times, but never saw combat except for on TV.
Somewhere I read that a high percentage of military, police, and fire/rescue retirees die about a year after retirement. That was the case for George; one night he stood up and then hit the floor.
Pat, his wife, told me later that when she was filing for survivor benefits the person from the VA took one look at his retirement physical and upgraded him retroactively to 100% disabled. She also told me that he kept getting a job, and then waking out when they told him he had to join a union. He figured if he joined a union that would mean two bosses, which was at least one too many.
Eventually I lost contact with Pat and her kids. She went her way, and put her life back together. This being before cell phones, the Internet, and social media, keeping in touch meant expensive long distance bills or actually writing a letter and mailing it, and the Army was keeping me pretty busy then; even when I moved back to within a hundred miles of where they were, I met the future Mrs. Drang and was otherwise occupied.
Speaking of upgrading George's disability, this is the other sing I usually play on Memorial and Veteran's Days:
Hey don't ya remember...?